Mass flight cancellations have left 4,000 Jetstar passengers stranded or forced to cancel trips, with the carrier unable to offer flights until a week later in many cases.
Many said they were left in Bali well beyond their scheduled return date without access to medicine, or were forced to lose their wages because they couldn’t get home in time for work.
Jason Hayes was treated to ‘breakfast in bed’ on Father’s Day – breakfast was a block of chocolate and a packet of crisps, and the bed was a row of seats at the airport from Perth.
Hayes, his wife, Roxi Heywood Hayes, and the couple’s seven-year-old autistic son, who also has ADHD, were due to return home to Newcastle after their Bali vacation at the end of August. Instead, they were stuck in Indonesia for a week as the medicine ran out.
Thousands of Australians were still stranded in Bali earlier this week after Jetstar canceled several flights. Eight return services between Melbourne or Sydney and Denpasar have been canceled since September 1, in addition to a number of delays of up to 24 hours.
Jetstar said around 4,000 travelers were affected, but a company spokesperson said “the majority of affected passengers have now been relocated and our teams are working hard to find an alternative option for the approximately 200 remaining passengers”. Guardian Australia understands that number had fallen to 180 by Tuesday afternoon.
Many travelers to Bali and Thailand too, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, face delays of more than a week in order to get an alternative return flight.
But the airline denied the Herald report that it had lost half of its fleet of long-haul aircraft to engineering problems.
The original return flight for Hayes and her family was canceled on August 29. After their second flight was canceled on August 31, their son had just one day’s supply of Ritalin, Hayes was off blood pressure medication for three days, and Heywood Hayes was off antidepressants. for three days.
“We didn’t think we would have to stay in Bali an extra week,” Heywood Hayes said.
After their fourth flight was canceled, Hayes asked the airline to take the family “anywhere” in Australia, and was eventually offered the route from Bali to Perth, Perth to Melbourne and from Melbourne to Sydney, where a three-hour train ride would bring them home. in Newcastle.
Heywood Hayes said they left Bali at 9 p.m. Saturday night, but did not return to Newcastle until 1 a.m. Monday morning.
“All of this with a seven-year-old autistic son with ADHD and no medication,” Heywood Hayes said.
She described the experience as “horrible”.
Heywood Hayes was not alone. Speaking from Bali, Sonia Myers told the ABC that her 85-year-old father Lionel and his 70-year-old friend John Williams would run out of medicine if their flight home was further delayed.
Myers said the trio of travelers managed to secure a flight for September 12 – eight days later than their original flight – after being first told there were no options to book a another flight this month.
In a statement, Jeremy Schmidt, chief pilot at Jetstar, said the company’s fleet of Boeing 787s had “recently been hit by a number of issues – a lightning strike, a bird strike, an item rolled on the way to the runway and also a critical part that needed to be transported by road through the United States before coming to Australia”.
“We would like to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and frustration caused to our customers by this disruption,” Schmidt said.
In a separate statement, a Jetstar spokesperson said “our teams are working hard to get passengers departing as soon as possible – we are running five special services to get people home and reserve seats on flights Qantas as well.
“We have also offered flight credit or refunds for passengers who no longer wish to travel and accommodation and meal vouchers for those who need them,” the spokesperson said.
Many travelers have been forced to shell out large sums to return home.
Heywood Hayes said her family lost their salaries as well as the money they had to pay for appointments they couldn’t attend.
“I don’t work, I don’t get paid,” said the housekeeper and childminder.
Meagan Mulder told news.com.au that the four friends she was traveling with had paid over $10,000 to book flights with another airline to return home via Kuala Lumpur.
The cancellation of flights going the other way, from Australia to Bali, has also caused a stir.
Maree Edmond told Guardian Australia that the cancellation of her flight, which was due to leave for Bali on September 4, led to the cancellation of the family’s holiday because her husband, a freelance builder, could not afford to stay in Bali longer than they budgeted.
“By the time we arrived it would have been half of what was planned and we couldn’t risk being stuck there with back-to-work commitments,” Edmond said.
Their only other option was to book with another airline, but the cost would have been $4,500 and their travel insurance could not guarantee that they would be reimbursed for the initial flights.
“I am totally devastated, angry and frustrated. Like many, we saved up and planned great overseas holidays that were denied us for many years, only to be crushed,” Edmond said.
Lloyd Hargraves took to social media to express his disappointment to Jetstar that the cancellation of his flight to Bali meant he missed his friend’s wedding.
Hargraves discovered that his September 1 flight had been rescheduled for the next day, but when he arrived at the airport he faced further delays.
He said the experience cost him $1,500 as well as the opportunity “to see our friend get married, which we can never get back.”
Jetstar flights cancelled, leaving 4,000 passengers stranded overseas for up to a week